Both Boeing and SpaceX are set to split as much as $1 billion in federal awards destined to spur development of next-generation manned spacecraft. This follows other funding ventures awarded in the past few years to private space companies, in NASA‘s attempt to delimit itself from suborbital ventures, so that it may concentrate on deep space ventures.

SpaceX Dragon crew in evaluation test. (c) SpaceX

SpaceX Dragon crew in evaluation test. (c) SpaceX

The total amount available is likely to be between $800 and $1 billion through the middle of 2014. Sierra Nevada Corp., a manufacturer of satellite components and other aerospace hardware, is set to be awarded a third place funding award, albeit in a smaller amount. Following President Obama’s decision to retire the space shuttle last year, NASA has been left to rely on renting flight from Russia in its Soyuz spacecrafts for missions to the International Space Station. By helping develop private space ventures, the administration hopes to relieve itself from this dependency, and in fact open up the whole market.

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Just three months ago, SpaceX’s Dragon capsule successfully docked, unmanned, with the International Space Station and completed its mission with a flawless re-entry, landing in the Pacific. Within a few years, the system will allegedly be fully integrated in the International Space Station docking circuit.

In other news, a new study commissioned by the U.S. and Florida governments forecasts that private suborbital spaceflights, which reach 63 miles above Earth’s surface and dive back through the atmosphere, would bring between $600 million and $1.6 billion in revenue in their first decade of operations.  Nearly 80 percent of the demand for commercial suborbital flights will be driven by tourism, according to the report, while the rest for research. [source]